A day in the life of a live chat Happiness Engineer

I lead a WordPress.com live chat team at Automattic, and as we expand our live chat offering into the weekends, I work a couple of weekend days each month. Today is one of those weekend workdays for me.

On weekends I do more customer-facing-support and less team-lead stuff than I do during the week, and I’m excited to share my experiences in direct support to help folks who are looking to become Happiness Engineers see what the day-to-day job is like. If you are one of these prospective Happiness Engineers, be sure to check out posts tagged A8Cday in the WordPress.com Reader for more stories from support pros at Automattic.

Sunday, March 5

I woke at 6AM today while everyone but the cats was still sleeping. The house was silent until I ran the NutriBullet to make my breakfast (sorry, family!), and I started the day by plopping down on the couch with my smoothie. I propped my feet up on the coffee table and starting skimming through the 80 or so email notifications about the goings-on at work from Friday while I was taking my flex day.

My email inbox does not include emails from real people who I need to respond to — all of the communication I do with co-workers is via internal blogs and a messaging tool called Slack. Instead, I use email to triage WordPress notifications for communications that happen via our internal blogs, or P2s. In my inbox were a few mentions from meetings and conversations I was involved in (delete), several posts about various products, teams, and business and marketing updates (save for later), and discussion threads I’m following about live chat tips, help desk tools, and product flows (skim then delete).

After triaging my work email, I made some tea, and shifted to an email system where I do actually respond to real people: our customers. Before my live chat shift started at 8AM, I sent a handful of emails to Business customers about questions that spanned the following types of issues:

  • Please don’t show my email address on my site’s contact form (Not to worry! It pre-fills with the information of logged in users who visit the form; when I visit the form, it fills with my information, not yours. Visitors will see their own email address, not the site-owner’s.)
  • Why are my SEO options deactivated? (They appear to be working on my end — can you tell me more about the trouble you’re running into? Please provide the steps you’re taking, what you expect to happen, what happens differently from what you expect, and any error messages you receive.)
  • I added an email to my domain but haven’t received my activation email (the domain is not hosted here at WordPress.com, so there will be some preliminary steps if you’d like to use that domain with WordPress.com and then add email)
  • I just signed up! Where do I start? (Awesome! Welcome! I recommend starting here.)
  • How can I install the MailChimp plugin? (MailChimp integration is built-in on WordPress.com, so you don’t need a plugin. Instead you can follow the steps on this support page to get your MailChimp pop-up configured)
  • I need to add MX records to my DNS so I can use my email — can you help? (Thanks for providing those records — yep, I’ll show you how to add them)

At 8 AM I put my teacup in the dishwasher, got a glass of ice water, went downstairs to my office, and put my walking shoes on. I fired up my tread desk, logged into chat on our new internally-built, homegrown chat tool, and started chatting with customers. Midway through my first chat I got a text from my Mom:

Are you working today? I have a WordPress question. If I get in live chat can I ask for you?

My colleagues got a kick out of that when I mentioned on Slack — “My mom is about to get on live chat and ask for me 😀 Please send her if you get her.”

That’s pretty adorable. HI MOM

If my mom ever comes to live chat, I will /transfer Andrea

I spent a little over three hours in live chat with customers before breaking for lunch:

  • answering questions about WordAds
  • helping my mom with the WordPress mobile app
  • helping folks get set up with the right installation of WordPress for their needs
  • changing colors in the Customizer
  • finding themes that fit their design needs
  • pasting content copied from an email into the HTML editor instead of the Visual editor (when pasting from word processors or email, the formatting can get messy)
  • setting up photo galleries
  • adjusting widgets so they appear on some pages but not other using widget visibility
  • determining why a map is appearing on a contact page but not in the contact widget (it needs a Google API key in the widget)
  • and various other questions.

When chat was slow, I also helped colleagues in Slack and answered Business customers’ questions in the email queue. In the first of the morning hours we were well-staffed on chat and I was generally helping 2-3 customers at a time; we got a little busier in the third hour, and I was often handling 4 simultaneous chats before it was time to break for lunch. With one French-speaking customer, we were having trouble crossing the language barrier, until it occurred to me to change my WordPress.com interface to French so I could tell her the steps using the language she uses in her dashboard. I forgot to switch mine back to English, and my phone’s WordPress notifications were coming through in French on my lunch break 😂. She was super grateful, and super excited for the help, and that is what I love about this job: the lightbulb moments, the “OMG THANK YOU” moments, the “Wow, I didn’t know I could do that!” moments of empowerment.

When I went upstairs at 11:30AM, most of the family was still in PJs. My daughter showed me the slime she just made (amazing, sweetie), my husband and son checked to see if it was ok for them to take the new canoe out for its maiden voyage without me (yes, that’s fine), and the cats jumped in my lap while I ate (no, you can’t have my salmon). I came back down for one more hour of chat, to finish up some more Business emails, and to hit 5 walking hours on my treadmill. When I looked out my office window a few minutes ago, my husband and son were returning the canoe to its storage place — our trailer is not equipped to carry it. Bummer. I guess we’ll need a roof rack.

Now that my walking is done, I’m headed back upstairs to make a cup of coffee and finish out my workday by the living room window. In my final couple of hours of work, I’ll set my mug in the windowsill and test a new feature while cats curl on my lap. Oh, and I need to do some prep work for my team meetup in Playa del Carmen that’s coming up in a little over a week!

¡Gracias por leyendo!

If you love helping people and customer support is totally your bag, check us out — we’re hiring. Also, I stole the laptop photo idea from my co-worker Julia Amosova — thanks Julia! She and many others have posted about a typical Automattic day (a8cday) if you’d like to read through more stories.

Originally published on Butterfly Mind, March 2017.

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